I will readily admit that I am one of those people who loves to watch the Oscars almost as much as I love to talk trash about the Oscars. I’ve heard many like-minded people equate the Oscars to “the Super Bowl for movies,” and after some thought, I can pretty much get on-board with this comparison. Sure, there are some huge differences — the Super Bowl is an event where teams are playing live to win something they actually deserve, whereas the Oscars are an arbitrary set of awards determined by a bunch of rich old white people — but when it comes to the excitement of the viewing experience, the amount of alcohol consumed throughout the ceremony, and the excessive pettiness of my Twitter timeline during the show and in the days to follow, I honestly can’t think of two more similar events.
A week from tonight, the 90th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will air on ABC. Despite the fact that I’ve watched the Oscars every year for as long as I can remember, this will be the first time I officially make my predictions in a public forum (and what could be more public than this, our extremely famous and well-known blog?). I want to do my best to be correct, but I also want to give some love to the films I actually liked, so I’m going to format this post the way a lot of writers do: for each category, I’ll give my official prediction, and then I’ll give the film that would win it if were up to me.
This intro is starting to run about as long as I expect Jimmy Kimmel’s opening monologue will, so let’s get into it, shall we?
On February 15th, Marvel released the highly anticipated Black Panther movie, directed by Creed's Ryan Coogler and featuring a star-studded cast including Angela Bassett, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong'o . . . the list goes on. Did the movie live up to the hype? Mary and Emily are here to provide their spoiler-filled opinions.
Emily: Let me turn on the Black Panther soundtrack for this. I advise our readers do the same.
Mary: So, like the rest of the world, Black Panther has been on our radar for a while now. The new Marvel film features an all star cast, high budget special effects, and a look at something we haven’t seen before from Marvel: world building (on earth).
The movie follows Prince T’Challa, the successor to the throne of Wakanda, as he takes his place as the Black Panther, the mystical, powerful protector of the nation. However, as he journeys to take down the noted thief and all around crazy person Ulysses Klaue, T’Challa discovers that there’s an even bigger threat to Wakanda’s way of life. Michael B. Jordan.
Before knowing how this whole show would shake out, I decided I wanted to write a blog post about the 2018 Golden Globes...
There are general assumptions I make about this first major ceremony of the awards season. Mainly, that most celebs will be super drunk by the end of it. Also, the winners are usually a bit less predictable than the awards shows that follow because, first of all, it's the first show of the season so we're not sure how movies are going to trend just yet, and secondly, it's the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and they're just a little more edgy than the Academy, which from what I can tell is still just a bunch of boring old white people.
But here's something I should have expected for this particular show. I would have prepared myself for it had I been paying more attention. Clearly I'm an irresponsible amateur blogger, however, so I wasn't fully prepared for how hardcore everyone was going to be about trying to out-feminist one another last night. I haven't been living under a rock, so I did know that everyone was going to be wearing all black to protest all of the terrible dudes in Hollywood. I also knew that #MeToo was a thing. So give me some credit here.
Nonetheless, last night, overall, was just super weird. Most of it felt disingenuous, or if you're a Bachelor fan, disingenuine (no, that will never get old for me). But I don't want to sit here and point fingers at what celebs were true feminists and which were just wannabe poseurs. What I do want to do is give out some awards of my own for the best/worst/weirdest shit that went down last night. So here it goes.
In January of 1994, figure skater Nancy Kerrigan was infamously attacked and injured following a practice session at the U.S. Figure Skating Championship. It was later revealed that the attacker, a man named Shane Stant, was hired by co-conspirators of Kerrigan’s main team competitor, Tonya Harding, with the intent to break Kerrigan’s leg so that she would not be able to compete at that year’s Winter Olympics.
I was three years old in 1994. Growing up, I only knew about the incident in the vaguest of terms, my understanding being that at some point in the early 1990s, one female figure skater attacked another in an attempt to ruin her career. I didn’t know anything about these women, only that one of them was good, and one of them was bad. This is the version of Tonya Harding that history paints: she was a crude, aggressive, and ultimately vindictive woman who did unspeakable things to get ahead. She was the closest thing competitive figure skating had to a villain.
When I was home for the holidays last month, my mom and I saw a trailer for I, Tonya, Craig Gillespie’s biopic chronicling Tonya Harding’s life. “I don’t know why anyone would want to watch a movie about that,” my mom said. “I was watching when that happened. The sound of Nancy Kerrigan crying — it was so horrible. I can still hear it.”
Here’s the thing: I, Tonya isn’t about “that.” It’s not about the attack on Nancy Kerrigan, an event which solidified Harding’s reputation as the bad girl of figure skating and ultimately ended her career. No — this film is a biopic in the most traditional sense, no matter how untraditional its methods may be. This is a film about Tonya Harding.
If you’re a DC fan like me, then you probably had veiled and desperate hopes for this month’s Justice League—anything to replace last year’s Batman v Superman. And if you’re like me, then you were perhaps pleasantly surprised by the latest film. It maintained the seriousness of the DC comics, as well as the darkness of the threat its main villain carried. And since the threat is darker, the team assembled to fight it is darker. But thanks to Joss Whedon’s influence, we got more comedy in the balance. The overall disappointment with this film was the blatant male gaze that uplifted the macho and the overbearing, and belittled the feminine and the powerful. I will point out things the film did well, but unfortunately, that aspect tainted the majority of the storyline, so much so that it wrote the title of this article itself. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at areas where this film succeeded and failed, starting with the team itself.
Watch out for spoilers after the cut!
Final Girls by Riley Sager is a new release horror/thriller/mystery novel, and it's basically a slasher movie in book form. So of course Kelli and Emily were fully on board to read and review this book, especially because Halloween exists, and it's today. So Happy Halloween, Book Squad Goalies! Read on for our thoughts on this here book.
Kelli: So, for spooky reasons, we thought it would be fun to read some horror fiction this month and have a little chat with each other about it. Emily, you suggested the book Final Girls by Riley Sager - a book which boasts praise from the one and only Stephen King on its cover.
Emily: Yeah but I feel like those are a dime a dozen really. Stephen King has a lot to say about a lot of people.
Kelli: Where does he find the time to do so much reading?
Emily: He is a speed reader and writer.
Kelli: I want that.
Emily: Same. Though I read this book in two days, so maybe I'm on my way.
Kelli: Anyway, Final Girls follows Quincy, a woman who is the lone survivor of a brutal attack on her group of college friends at a cabin in the woods. The book takes place... ten years after that? I think?
Emily: Something like that, yes.
Kelli: The concept is that there are three different women - Quincy, Lisa, and Sam - who all survived similar attacks roughly ten years apart from one another, and the three of them have been labeled 'the Final Girls' by the news media, based on the horror trope we all know and love. I have a hard time believing the news media would actually employ film trope terminology, but whatever.
Emily: Also the author doesn't do a very good job of crediting Carol J. Clover, the person who came up with the trope. Or explaining what the trope is really about, which was disappointing for me because I'm a theory nerd. I'm just here to trash this novel. I'm sorry if I'm jumping the gun.
Kelli: Yeah. And we're both familiar with it, but I'm sure a lot of the people reading this book aren't.
Emily: So you wrote a paper about the Final Girls trope, which makes you an expert.
Kelli: Yes, I'm an expert. Definitely.
Emily: So for people who don't know what it is, would you care to briefly give us a run down?
Can I be totally honest with y’all and tell you the reason why I’m not an animal person? They’re too easily won. I know you’re gonna say I’m wrong, animals are really smart, they’re intuitive about people’s intent, they will guard your house, et cetera. I think it stands to reason, though, that they guard your house because you’ve trained them to do it. That if, let’s say, a gangster drug dealer trained his pitbull to attack you, they’d guard his house and him, too.
I point this out to say that if the family in The Witch hadn’t trusted their many animals, all that shit might not have gone down the way that it did.
I just need to make myriad worldview statements first before I get to my points about The Witch, because I want y’all to consider perspective when contemplating the genius of this movie, and it’s important to me that you know where I’m coming from so you can see this one perspective, which I haven’t seen addressed yet.
Here are two important things that I want to say about the nature of evil and my Christian upbringing:
[**Here’s where the spoilers start. If you haven’t seen The Witch yet, go stream it on Amazon Prime —you get a free year trial with an .edu address!—but do it in the light of day, with a friend who you know and trust. It is seriously SO GOOD. Truly beautiful and compelling. I really can’t oversell it.]
Perhaps the best thing about this season of American Horror Story was the two-minute trailer for mother!, Oscar-winning filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s newest project. The preview promises a psychological thriller starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a couple who live in a beautiful, secluded mansion, which—to the dismay of Lawrence (the eponymous Mother) and the delight of Bardem (known only as Him)—is soon invaded by two strangers played by Ed Harris and Michelle Pfieffer (credited as Man and Woman, respectively).
Friday afternoon we went into the theater knowing little more than this basic premise and that the movie was meant to be an artful, fatalistic meditation on the destructive and irredeemable nature of mankind. Mother! picks up on themes of religious failure and climatic disaster introduced in Aronofsky’s previous film, the remarkably unremarkable Biblical epic Noah. In his latest project, Aronofsky returns to Judeo-Christian mythology for inspiration, this time with a heavy-handed Biblical allegory about humanity’s destruction of the earth. Even so, with a title like mother!, one might reasonably expect to see a film more obviously concerned with women. In a recent interview, Lawrence describes the movie as “incredibly feminist,” but suggests it’s “much bigger,” echoing Aronofsky’s insistence that the film engages with universal allegories that are “not male or female, it’s all of us.” But what we actually get is a (probably not very self-aware) film about how men use women.
Beyond the cut are many, many spoilers. You have been warned.
Ingrid Goes West surprised me.
I try not to have too many expectations going into movies these days, but once I saw the trailer for Matt Spicer’s feature directorial debut, I had a pretty good idea of how I would react to the film. Going in, I was expecting a reasonably funny (albeit gimmicky) Aubrey Plaza-driven romp through California — one of those quirky Sundance comedies that does its job as entertainment but fails to sustain itself after a first viewing because it doesn't say or do anything that’s not been said or done the same way before. I thought I’d probably like it — not love it — for the same reasons, and that I’d forget about it after a couple of hours and move on with my life.
Two days later, I’m still thinking about it. In fact, I imagine that I will be thinking about this film for a long time. It may have a plot summary that reads like a clickbait article, but this film is so much more than a comedy about an Instagram stalker. Grounded by a career-best performance from Aubrey Plaza and a surprisingly likable cast of supporting characters, Ingrid Goes West is a film about mental illness, grief, and the way we interact with social media when we think no one is watching us (or when we hope someone is).
About the Blog
The authors of this blog are four women with opinions about pop culture. That's all you really need to know.